Justice Minister Andrew Little has written to the Law Commission asking for a prioritised review of abortion laws.
"Given our intention to propose a policy shift to treat abortion as a health issue, I would like the Law Commission's advice on what alternative approaches can be taken in our legal framework," the letter reads.
Mr Little said he expected a reply within eight months.
The letter asks the commission to review the currently criminal aspects of abortion law as well as the laws surrounding access to abortions, but says a review of the crime of "killing an unborn child" in the Crimes Act does not need to be reviewed.
Source: 1 NEWS
"But you may wish to highlight any adjustments to that provision that would be needed because of the options discussed."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would change New Zealand's abortion laws - which still include abortion in the Crimes Act and haven't been changed since 1977 - during last year's election.
Mr Little has recently faced questions about whether the government was progressing with that promise.
He said it was hard to predict how long the process of turning the recommendations into law could take.
"My expectation is I get a report back at least by the end of the year and then we have to work through the legislative timetable," he told reporters this month.
Any law change would require a conscience vote in parliament, he said.
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